Events Mark Middle East Refugees Awareness Week at Duke and UNC

From April 8-17, Duke and UNC will host Middle East Refugees Awareness Week.

In North Carolina today there are thousands of refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, Kenya, Myanmar, Nepal, Sudan, Somalia and Syria. From April 8-17, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will host Middle East Refugees Awareness Week — a series of events engaging scholars, students and local refugees in a public conversation about the human face of more than a decade of war in the Middle East. All events are free and open to the public. “At a time when more Arabs than ever before are being forced out of their homes — with 8 million Syrians internally displaced and 3 million refugees — we have a responsibility to teach and learn about the lives and courage of people who appear to us only as overwhelming numbers of faceless, anonymous people in need,” said Duke professor of Arab cultures Miriam Cooke, the organizer of the series of events.Events kick off on April 8 with a 7 p.m. screening at Duke’s Griffith Auditorium of “The Good Lie,” which tells the story of Sudanese refugees resettling in America. Members of the Sudanese refugee community in Durham will participate in a Q&A following the screening, which will be facilitated by Cooke, who directs the Duke Middle East Studies Center (DUMESC), and DUMESC program coordinator Iyman Ahmed-Gaspard, who came to Canada with her family as a Sudanese political refugee in 1997. Other events include:-- April 9, noon, Room 4003 of UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center: Colby College anthropology professor Catherine Besteman will present a lecture on “Somali Refugees: The Role of Islam in Adapting to American Society.” -- April 10, 4 p.m., Room 240 of Duke’s John Hope Franklin Center: Duke alumna and Palestinian activist Laila el-Haddad, who co-wrote “The Gaza Kitchen,” a cookbook and documentary portrait of the Gaza Strip, will discuss her work -- April 13, 5 p.m., Room 240 of Duke’s John Hope Franklin Center: Dawn Chatty, director of the Oxford Refugee Studies Center, will speak on “Dispossession and Forced migration in the Arab Middle East.” Following the talk, there will be a celebration highlighting Iraqi culture through food and music at the center led by Duke professors Abdul Sattar Shakhly (from Iraq) and Azzedine Chergui (from Morocco). -- April 14, 5 p.m., Room 240 of Duke’s John Hope Franklin Center: Keith Watenpaugh, director of the University of California at Davis Human Rights Center, will lecture on “Syria’s Lost Generation.” -- April 15, noon, Room 240 of Duke’s John Hope Franklin Center: Iraqi-American poet, writer and Duke Ph.D. scholar of cultural anthropology Louis Yako will share personal memories about the first and second Gulf wars, his experiences in Iraq following the US-led occupation in 2003, leaving Iraq in 2005 and his ongoing research project on Iraqi academics in exile.  -- April 15, 7 p.m., Duke’s Griffith Film Theater: The film “Not Who We Are,” which tells the story of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, will be screened.-- April 16, 5 p.m., Room 3024 of UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center: Dilshad Mohammed, a UNC graduate student who has worked with Arab refugees, will talk about “Refugee Health: Experiences and Lessons from Northern Iraq.” -- April 17, 1 p.m., Room 14 of Duke’s Westbrook building: Students from the Duke course “Refugee Lives” (co-taught by Cooke and Arabic instructor Maha Houssami) will have a public conversation with visiting scholars about the local service-learning assignment they have been engaged in.  Throughout the semester the students have been learning about the local refugee experience through pairings with refugee families and individuals living in Durham, and through interaction with community partners, including Church World Service, which facilitate refugee resettlement.  The Middle East Refugees Awareness Week is co-sponsored by DUMESC, the Duke Islamic Studies Center and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies. All events are dedicated to the memory of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, who worked on behalf of refugees.